Saints picked up their first league win of the season with a comfortable victory over ten-man Norwich City at St Mary’s.
Graziano Pellè put Saints in front at the end of an action-packed opening 45 minutes in which Norwich were also reduced to ten men after the dismissal of Steven Whittaker for two bookings. Pellè’s close range finish gave the hosts a breakthrough as a reward for their first-half dominance against the battling Canaries.
Two second-half strikes from Dušan Tadić sealed the win, with the Serbian showing composure and awareness to snap up the opportunities presented to him, as Ronald Koeman’s men got the pick-me-up they needed after Thursday’s Europa League exit.
Norwich had only previously won here once in eleven attempts, a run that goes on after this result.
Koeman welcomed back Sadio Mané as one of three changes to the side that started the defeat to Midtjylland in midweek. Also making a return were Dušan Tadić and Cédric Soares, as Steven Caulker, Cuco Martina, and Jay Rodriguez were named on the bench.
Steven Davis and Graziano Pellè got the game under way, with Saints attacking the Northam stand in a lunchtime kick-off at St Mary’s.
Pellè was involved straightaway when he was brought to ground around 25 yards from goal. James Ward-Prowse stepped up to strike at goal, forcing a fine finger-tip save from John Ruddy within the first minute of the game.
Saints took the game to their opponents from the off, with a couple of corners delivering some early testers for the Norwich defence, with both leading to chances for Romeu and Fonte respectively, though neither could find the target.
On 13 minutes, Mané cut in from the right to draw a low save from Ruddy, and the Senegalese’s run and cross teed up Pellè for an ambitious overhead kick, which went wide.
Norwich had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring on 20 when Graham Dorrans helped the ball back into the area, where Jerome headed wide from close range, knowing that he should have put it on target.
Tadić was heavily involved at the other end, and went close to finding the net with a low strike across goal before his cross picked out Pellè, whose effort appeared to be deflected wide by Sebastien Bassong.
The complexion of the game was altered when Norwich’s full-back Steven Whittaker was sent off after picking up two bookings in the space of four minutes, the latter for a pull on Tadić, making his previous yellow for stopping Targett take a throw-in even more costly.
Andre Wisdom was brought on to shore things up for the Canaries, with Wes Hoolahan sacrificed.
Just as it looked as though Norwich would hold out until half-time, Saints grabbed the breakthrough goal in the two minutes of stoppage time as Mané fed a short ball into the path of Pellè, who hooked in the ball at the near post past a wrong-footed Ruddy for 1-0.
The goal brought with it a sense of relief around the stadium, with Pellè almost snatching a second on the whistle, with Saints then roared off at the break by the crowd.
Jay Rodriguez replaced Steven Davis in the only change made at the interval, as Saints looked to make their one-man advantage count even further in the second half.
The hosts started well with Ruddy producing a fine save to deny Mané at his near post on 56 minutes, before following up with a similarly smart stop to keep out Rodriguez.
The game began to open out more, with Stekelenburg diving on a low cross from Wisdom to avert any danger of being caught on the break as Saints stepped up the pressure.
Saints went close to doubling their lead on two occasions through Pellè – the first a rocket of a shot which clipped the side-netting, and then he headed a 62nd minute corner over the bar, as Koeman’s men pushed on.
The goal they had threatened arrived on 64 minutes when Tadić got on the end of Mané’s low cross inside the area, and patiently picked his spot to make it 2-0.
The same man made it 3-0 just three minute later when he followed in Pellè’s header which was initially kept out by Ruddy from six yards out.
Rodriguez was a matter of inches away from increasing the lead when he curled a shot from the edge of the area just over the top of Ruddy’s goal.
Juanmi replaced Mané for the final ten minutes, with the winger receiving a standing ovation for his efforts in the game.
Norwich produced a rare foray forward late on to win a corner, which resulted in Robbie Brady nearly catching Stekelenburg out with a deep cross that almost landed on target, but the Dutch ‘keeper covered his goal well on the way to recording a successive Premier League clean sheet.
Southampton team: Maarten Stekelenburg, Cédric Soares (Cuco Martina 72), Maya Yoshida, José Fonte (c), Matt Targett, Oriol Romeu, Steven Davis (Jay Rodriguez 46), James Ward-Prowse, Dušan Tadić, Sadio Mané (Juanmi 80), Graziano Pellè
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Shane Long, Harrison Reed, Steven Caulker
Goals: Pellè (45), Tadić (64) & (67)
Norwich team: John Ruddy, Steven Whittaker, Russell Martin (c), Sebastien Bassong, Robbie Brady, Graham Dorrans (Bradley Johnson 70), Alexander Tettey, Wes Hoolahan (Andre Wisdom 33), Jonathan Howson, Nathan Redmond, Cameron Jerome (Gary Hooper 89)
Unused substitutes: Declan Rudd, Ryan Bennett, Gary O’Neil, Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Booked: Whittaker (27) & (31)
Sent off: Whittaker
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Attendance: 29,573 (including 2,021 away)